NEW YORK — Yankees fans, you've heard the Bryce Harper speculation by now.
You know that the Washington Nationals do-it-all right fielder will become a free agent after the 2017 season and sign somewhere for up to a staggering $500 million.
And who else is going to pay that kind of coin besides the Yankees or Dodgers?Yankees reliever Chasen Shreve, pitching against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium on May 6, 2016, has been friends with Nationals superstar Bryce Harper since they were college teammates for a year. (Kathy Kmonicek | AP)Randy Miller | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
Well, the day after Nats ace right-hander Stephen Strasburg surprisingly gave up end-of-the-season free agency to sign a seven-year, $175-million extension on Monday, we bring you a somewhat-in-the-know opinion of what will become of Harper.
"I wouldn't be surprised if Bryce stayed in Washington, too," Yankees reliever Chasen Shreve told NJ Advance Media before Tuesday night's 10-7 win over the Kansas City Royals.
Shreve has a better gauge on this than most. He and Harper are both from Las Vegas, they played against each other in high school and they were junior college teammates in 2010 at College of Southern Nevada.
"Yeah, we're friends, for sure," Shreve said.
They're good enough buds that during offseason they frequently golf together, sometimes dine together and occasionally work out together.Aroldis Chapman keying Yankees' turnaround The Yankees are still in last place, but they're 2-0 since new closer Aroldis Chapman arrived, and his presence has helped a struggling offense wake up in a big way, too. 5/10/16 (Randy Miller | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)
And during one of their talks last winter, Shreve offered up this nugget that Yankees fans probably won't like hearing:
"I know Bryce likes it in D.C. a lot," the left-hander said. "He was actually talking in the offseason about moving there year-round, so I know he likes it a lot. I don't know what he would do though and I don't know what the Yankees have in mind."
Oh, you can be sure the Yankees will want him, probably at whatever it takes to get him. Why wouldn't they? They'll have a lot of big contracts coming off the books in the next two years and Harper is a 23-year-old, five-tool right fielder who hit .330 with 42 homers last season.
Ackley on ties to Strasburg, Nats' $175M man
The only questions are will the Nats go all out to prevent Harper from hitting the open market ... and, if so, will Harper give up an opportunity to get perhaps by far the biggest contract in baseball history?
Sitting at his locker, Shreve flashed a smile when asked if he'd do some campaigning if he's still with the Yankees after the 2017 season and Harper becomes a free agent.
"Maybe," he said. "It would be great to see him here. It would be fun to be his teammate again, for sure."
Anyway, like everyone else who knows anything about baseball, Shreve is pretty certain that Harper, a left-handed hitter, would put up humungous power numbers playing half of his games at Yankee Stadium, which famously has a short right-field porch.
"Geez, he had over 40 homers last year," Shreve said. "You never know what people are going to do somewhere else, but him being left-handed and playing in Yankee Stadium? That can't be bad. Yeah, I think he'd do well here!"
Randy Miller may be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @RandyJMiller. Find NJ.com Philadelphia Sports on Facebook.
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